Seeing Jesus In The Movies

Recently my wife brought home a movie and told me she had no clue what it was about but thought it looked good, while also saying under her breath that it was a “chick flick.”  As I poured myself a drink and made some popcorn I got up the nerve to watch the movie with her.  I soon discovered this was no “chick flick;” it was a story of Jesus in everyday life.

The movie is called Freedom Writers based on the book, The Freedom Writers Diary published in 1999.  The movie takes place in the 90s, in LA, and more specifically in a school that has forced integration into its system.  This means that rival gangs consisting of various ethnic groups will be forced to attend the same school at a time when racial tension was high on the streets of LA. 

As we are reminded of the racial tension in LA we then are introduced to Ms. G.  Ms. G is a new English teacher for grade 9 students.  Many of the kids in her English class are rival gang members who are desperately trying to stay alive in a world that is offering them gang violence, drugs, guns and death on a continual basis.

As we are invited into Ms. G’s life we see the struggle she has of teaching the students.  The students hold no respect for her, live in a different world and even hold different world beliefs.  As Ms. G discovers this she tries desperately to gain their respect and we see the only way she gained it was to live in their world by discovering what they faced on a daily basis.  Soon Ms G begins to live with the students in her own way and with this came respect and trust from the students, thus allowing her to transform their lives.  At this time it is important to realize that transformation came, not through traditional teaching methods, but developing new methods to reach the students in their world.  This however was not without difficulty. 

Other teachers, the head of the department, even for a time, her father tried to tell Ms. G that her teaching methods would not work nor would she be able to transform the lives of the students.  At the end of the movie we see these students graduate and attend college, many of whom were the first to graduate from high school in their families.

As I watched the movie I was drawn into the life of Ms. G and I could not help but see Jesus.  Jesus on numerous occasions entered into the lives of people, people whom society said are nobodies, outsiders, tax collectors and sinners.  Jesus often ate and interacted with people in which the “religious officials” often said there was no need to interact with them.  It is clear from the story of the gospels that Jesus often lived with the people and with this developed his teaching methods in order to teach the people.

As I look at the church today I see churches that hide from the outsiders, nobodies, tax collectors and sinners.  I see churches say they cannot reach them and sadly with this many churches flee into areas where they think receptivity to the gospel will be easier.  Could it be that we are not reaching the people because we are not living with the people?  Could it be we are not gaining the respect and trust of the people because we have not shown we care for them?  Could it be that we have isolated ourselves and because of this we are locking our doors to people who desperately need the gospel of Jesus Christ?

 It has been two weeks since I watched Freedom Writers and I haven’t been able to get the movie out of my mind because I saw Jesus in a way I have never seen him before – through the life of a teacher that was deeply committed to living and transforming the lives of her students.

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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